I did my best to smile politely, but the truth is, I didn't know how to respond. The fellow who spoke is someone I greatly respect as a writer, and as a socially conscious human being. Clearly, his intention was to compliment in a way that has become quite commonplace. Both men and women are using the phrase "have balls" to mean courage. But all I could think of is, "No, I do not have balls, nor do I need them."
I do not equate bravery, or an adventurous spirit with maleness.
I didn't share this view with him, or with the rest of the men who made up our small writers' group that day. I didn't want to take what was meant in kindness and turn it into some wrist-slapping/me on a soapbox scenario. Yet...it got under my skin enough to be writing about it today.
When said to a woman, the phrase implies that the woman on her own, is not sufficient. She must be raised up by testosterone/male genitalia to be capable of accomplishing anything daunting. Whereas the comment yesterday was meant to bolster, in fact, it left me feeling somewhat diminished. As if the speaker had said, "Wow, you did so well. It's like you were a man!"
Intention means a great deal to me, which again, is why I did not speak up at the time. But can I really be the only one who feels this way? Lately I've also heard many people say (on a range of topics), "Don't make such a big deal out of it. It's just words. Words don't mean anything."
But I believe words mean everything. They shape our existence.